My Path to Publication – Kelly Florentia

I’ve invited romantic novelist, Kelly Florentia, over to the blog today to tell us her writing journey. Kelly’s novel, The Magic Touch, was recently published by Accent Press. Welcome, Kelly, can you tell us how you became a published author.

 

Kelly Florentia author pic

My very first publication was a short story in a woman’s magazine. I’m a big fan of the short story, and as a teenager would often be found holed up in my bedroom reading the fiction slot in magazines. But I had several jobs before becoming a writer, including quite a long spell in catering. I loved the buzz and atmosphere of working in a central London eatery, but you do need nerves of steel to work in such a hectic environment. Diners literally had forty-five minutes to order their food and wolf it down before returning to their desks, and it was my job to make that happen and ensure it was a pleasurable and stress-free experience. The job was exciting but demanding, so when it was quiet I’d grab five or ten minutes and sit down with a cup of coffee and a magazine.

One day, after I’d finished reading a lovely story, I wondered if I should have a go at writing something myself. I had several poems under my belt by this time, so knew I had the writing bug. Lots of ideas rattled around in my head, many from the conversations I’d had with regular diners who loved to chat. It was a nice thought but I knew my heavy schedule wouldn’t allow me to put pen to paper, so I put it on the back burner. But then, as fate would have it, about a year later my parents announced that they were selling up and I found myself at a crossroads, career-wise. I’d worked in an office before, but I knew it wasn’t for me. I wanted to do something that I enjoyed. I’m quite keen on health and fitness and toyed with the idea of training as a personal instructor, but then the idea for writing pinged in my mind again and I decided to give it a go.

I signed up for a course with Writing Magazine. I loved it, my tutor was amazing and taught me everything I needed to know about short story writing. Once I finished the course, I started sending stories out to magazines. I honestly didn’t expect anything to come of it, but was glad I took the course all the same because I enjoyed it so much. Shortly after, to my utter astonishment, I got a call from Best Magazine, they loved my story and wanted to publish it! To say I was excited would be an understatement. I literally couldn’t speak. And so my short story writing career began. I had lots more stories published in magazines in the UK, Australia, and even Sweden. I got a buzz every time that email pinged through saying they’d like to publish my story. With this newfound confidence, I went ahead and released a collection of my short stories, To Tell a Tale or Two, which surpassed my expectations in sales and also received some superb reviews.

The feedback I got from my short stories was incredible, but one thing that readers kept telling me was that they wished they were longer – much longer. I’m quite a competitive person and like to push myself, so the next task was writing a novel. Given that the longest story I’d written was about 2500 words, I knew it was going to be a huge challenge. Just because I could write a short story didn’t mean that I could actually complete a novel.

I wrote my book in between working on a successful website in online marketing. I cried when I typed The End. I’d done it, but what next? I hadn’t a clue. A friend of mine suggested that I sign up for The Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme to get some feedback and advice on my work. It was a good move, the appraisal was invaluable and taught me so much about novel writing. I took the comments on board, applied them to my book and started sending it out to agents and publishers. Again, I expected nothing… which is exactly what I got! But then one morning as I was sitting at my computer, an email pinged through. It was from Accent Press. ‘Oh, here we go again,’ I thought, ‘another, thanks but no thanks.’ But instead of this, I got an offer for publication! My debut novel, The Magic Touch, which was published in 2014 and relaunched and updated recently, had found a home!

Fuelled with confidence, I completed two more books, No Way Back and its sequel, Her Secret, which have both been published by Urbane Publications. I’m now working on my fourth novel! So, to all aspiring writers out there, here’s my advice – never be put off by rejections, it’s all part of the process. Work hard, stay focused, read whatever you can get your hands on, and never ever give up on your dreams – they do come true.

Great advice, Kelly! Thanks so much for sharing this with us and congratulations on achieving your dream!

 

Here’s the cover of Kelly’s latest book:
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You can buy the book here:
Author Bio

Kelly Florentia was born and bred in north London, where she continues to live with her husband Joe. HER SECRET (2018) is her third novel and the sequel to NO WAY BACK (2017).

Kelly has always enjoyed writing and was a bit of a poet when she was younger. Before penning her debut THE MAGIC TOUCH, relaunched and updated in 2019, she wrote short stories for women s magazines. TO TELL A TALE OR TWO… is a collection of her short tales. In January 2017, her keen interest in health and fitness led to the release of SMOOTH OPERATOR a collection of twenty of her favourite smoothie recipes.

As well as writing, Kelly enjoys reading, running, drinking coffee, scoffing cakes, watching TV dramas and spending way too much time on social media. She is currently working on her fourth novel.

You can contact Kelly here:
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My Path to Publication – Gemma Rogers

This week Gemma Rogers is telling us how she achieved her dream of having her debut novel published by Boldwood Books on 10 September. Congratulations, Gemma! Can you tell us about your writing journey?

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I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Before my parents bought a computer that we could share, I was stuck using a heavy-duty typewriter. It weighed a tonne and I’d sit for hours on my bedroom floor, stealing my elder brother’s ideas about a wall clock called Horace who came to life at night. I’d create booklets, laced together with string and adorned with colour illustrations to bring his character to life. My fingers would be sore from hammering the giant keys, but I couldn’t get enough. Lost in a world of creativity.

My love of writing was most certainly born out of an addiction to books. As a teenager I loved horror: Richard Laymon, Christopher Pike and all the Point Horror books, the more gruesome the better. Occasionally I would dip into Sweet Valley High or Judy Blume when I wanted something light hearted or filled with teen angst. However, I was eager to write some of my own stories, my mind filled with ideas for twisted plots, forbidden love and bloody deaths.

Over the years that followed I wrote short stories and had great ideas for novels that I would start but never finish. Life got in the way, I got married, had children and writing became a hobby rather than a focus. Then in 2016 I knuckled down and wrote a book. I was immensely proud of the achievement. Writing ‘The End’ on a manuscript of over 90,000 words felt like I’d climbed Mount Everest. I’d completed something I never thought I’d be able to do.

So, I had the finished novel; followed instructions on the internet and put it away for a couple of weeks, basking in the afterglow of how I was going to get published. A fantasy I managed to stretch out for over a year as the rejections piled up.

I went back to the drawing board, looked at the manuscript again, scoured the internet and sought advice. Then realised what I’d written probably wasn’t as good as I first thought and everything, I’d learned throughout English lessons in school didn’t necessarily apply.

I found myself spending hours deleting unnecessary words and tightening sentences. One rejection I’d been given, written on a post-it note in bullet points, was ‘show don’t tell’. After much googling, reading writer forums and chatting to others online the penny finally dropped.

By that time, it was 2018 and a new idea had taken hold. One that had an element of truth in it. They always say, ‘write about what you know’ and so my debut novel was born.

I’ll be eternally grateful to the fabulous Boldwood Books team who took a chance on me and STALKER which is due to be published on 10th September.

Well done for never giving up, and persevering to achieve your dream, Gemma. Your story is an inspiration to other writers. Thank you for talking to us today. 

Here is Gemma’s book

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Blurb

‘My body reacted before I was even sure, the memory of him on my skin still fresh. I knew where he lived, where he hunted, and it wouldn’t be long before I knew his name.’

Eve Harding’s world implodes one Sunday morning when she is violently assaulted and raped walking to a South London train station.

As her attacker evades the Police and is left to roam the streets to stalk his next victim, Eve is forced to seek out her assailant before he strikes again.

With vengeance in mind, Eve is determined to find him in time and deliver justice on her own terms.In a game of cat and mouse, who is stalking who?

A gritty crime thriller, asking how far would you go to seek justice. Perfect for fans of Caroline Kepnes’ You, Kimberley Chambers, Emma Tallon and Jessie Keane.

Buy Link:

Link to buy book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07T586MKN

Author Bio

Gemma Rogers lives in West Sussex with her husband, two daughters and beloved bulldog, Buster.

Her love of writing began in her early teenage years, inspired by hours spent buried in Point Horror, Richard Laymon and Christopher Pike with the occasional Judy Blume thrown in for good measure.

Stories were written on an enormous heavy-duty typewriter, before being allowed to use her parent’s computer, where many hours were then spent.

Gemma’s debut novel, Stalker, was born out of a real-life experience almost twenty years ago and is set where she grew up in Surrey. The book tells the story of Eve, the victim of a violent sexual assault who attempts to track down her attacker to deliver justice on her own terms.

Other passions include movies – horrors and thrillers especially, bulldog walks, swimming and anything involving cake.

Contact links

 

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Check in next week to read another ‘path to publication’ story.

And if you want to read about my writing journey, I’m talking about it over on Tom William’s blog here.

 

My Path to Publication – Anne Pettigrew

My guest this week is feature writer and retired doctor, Anne Pettigrew, who after years of having articles published in medical newspapers, had her first book published at 69 years old.  Can you tell us how you achieved your writing dream, Anne?

 

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When I was four, I decided I’d be a doctor, though all through school I scribbled stories. I applied for both English and Medicine at Glasgow University, but deciding healing the sick was probably more useful to humanity than anything I might possibly write, I graduated in medicine in 1974. I became a GP to take advantage of maternity leave and part-time working, unavailable in hospital medicine then. But I loved being a GP.

My first publishing ‘break’ came in 1989 when a stroppy letter about Maggie Thatcher’s ’misguided NHS plans’ I’d sent to Glasgow Herald Newspaper was found ‘topical and amusing’ and published as an article. They engaged me to write regular columns. Without looking for any work, columns in medical newspapers followed. I fancied writing a novel, but with work, kids and elderly parents, it was retirement before I could try. And it was soooo much harder than writing 500-word articles ’sounding off’ about something. Drifting aimlessly, I took University Creative Writing classes to discover a whole new world of plotting, characterisation and dialogue. My aim was a ‘literary’ feminist novel about discrimination and sixties women doctors, which might convey ‘the moral complexity of the day’ as George Eliot felt a novel should do. Ha!

To my surprise, characters took a life of their own. Before I knew it, my wry protagonists were having affairs, jumping off bridges, cheating, lying, disposing of incriminating bodies and generally shocking me! The story even continued to evolve in my subconscious: I’d wake up in the morning with an urgent chapter needing typed up. Though other days involved staring at a blank screen offering no inspiration. I read Stephen King’s On Writing and Newman and Mittelmark’s How not to Write a Novel. Concluding my novel had all the faults agents and publishers hate, I tossed it aside.

One of my University tutors, Cathy McSporran, herself a published author, took my novel and helped me knock it into shape. My first three chapters (largely backstory) bit the dust. My husband was smug: he’d already suggested this. Several much-loved characters were discarded or amalgamated, plot lines accentuated, others eliminated. I joined encouraging Greenock Writers Club., won a few prizes, gained confidence. Friends read and loved the novel, offered suggestions, found bloomers: one character featured as alive and well had died two chapters before. (I’d meant it to be his brother).

After digesting Writers & Artists Yearbook 2017, I submitted for a year. Stony silence. Or ‘Not what we are looking for at this time. ‘Our list is full for years.’ So jaundiced had I become, that the final publication offer languished unopened in my inbox for days. Ringwood Publishing took it up. Not The Life Imagined was runner-up in SAW Constable Award 2018, has been submitted for a Saltire Literary Award 2019 and has resulted in me being chosen as a Spotlight (‘up and coming’!) Author at Bloody Scotland Book Festival in Stirling on 22nd September. I’m 69. If you are writing, never give up.

What a fascinating and amusing publication story, Anne. I can certainly identify with some of this – especially the bloomers! I had one of my characters painting a ceiling twice until my eager-eyed husband spotted it! Well done for not giving up. Your book sounds fun. 

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Book link-

Available as e-book and paperback

A darkly humorous, thought-provoking story of Scottish medical students in the sixties, a time of changing social and sexual mores

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07L98R2QH

https://www.waterstones.com/book/not-the-life-imagined/anne-pettigrew/

https://www.ringwoodpublishing.com/

Biography

Glasgow born Anne Pettigrew was a GP for 31 years and light-hearted columnist in The Herald and medical press.  A graduate of Glasgow (Medicine 1974) and Oxford (Anthropology 2004) she wrote Not the Life Imagined to record the experiences of sixties Scottish medical students (eg discrimination, #MeToo, mental health issues). Book royalties benefit Plan International in their drive to reduce the 130 million girls worldwide denied education. Anne blogs on her website and Literary Globe.

Contact links

Email: annepettigrew@gmail.com

Website: http://www.annepettigrew.co.uk

Facebook @annepettigrewauthor

Instagram anne.pettigrew.author

Twitter @pettigrew_anne

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Check in next week to read another ‘path to publication’ story.

And if you want to read about my writing journey, I’m talking about it over on Tom William’s blog here.